Struggling to Land the Plane

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by jg2000, Nov 2, 2019.

  1. jg2000

    jg2000 Filing Flight Plan

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    Hi everyone.

    So I have been flying for over 20 hours now and have done about 80 landings.

    I generally find I can do most things in the plane reasonably well. We've basically just done traffic patters and a few essential things out of the pattern like turns, climbing and descending, stalls.

    I am flying at a controlled airport and have pretty much nailed the traffic pattern.

    However, the landings are just disastrous. Every time I land I flare to early or too quickly and we balloon and slam down on the runway. I know when the plane balloons quite a lot to level the nose and then flare when it descends again, but

    My CFI just says I need more practise to nail the landings, but it feels like I am not making any improvement.

    I usually fly once or sometimes twice a week so it's not like I am forgetting lots. Not sure if the airport helps. The traffic pattern is fairly large and it's a busy field with a bit of commercial traffic which sometimes means that I don't do that many touch and goes in the hour. It has a huge 8000 feet runway though.

    Any suggestions on how to master the flare and improve? I feel like I am just stuck at this stage and will never solo.
     
  2. airheadpenguin

    airheadpenguin Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The plane will land when it's ready. Your job is to get the conditions right so that it wants to.

    To this end the better you manage your airspeed the better the results will be. If your too fast you'll bounce or float a long way. If you're slow it will be a hard landing as you flare.

    Work with your instructor to find the right speed and have them demonstrate landing 5kt fast and 2kt slow. You'll see the difference

    Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk
     
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  3. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    Yup. Too much airspeed is the most common problem, and carrying the approach speed right down into the flare is the other. You need to get the power off while you're still at 20 or 30 feet above the runway and start the round-out way up there to bleed off the speed so you arrive at the surface and flare with no excess speed. No ballooning or bouncing or flat landings or any of the other things that mess landings up.
    [​IMG]

    The speeds for your airplane will probably be lower than shown, but the principle is there.
     
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  4. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    The trick is to release back pressure as it starts to balloon not after.
    Also, slow down.

    -Not a CFI
     
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  5. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    What airplane?
     
  6. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy En-Route

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    (Wink wink)
     
  7. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    Yes. If you release it after you balloon, you risk nose gear and firewall damage. Hold it steady, the airplane will slow [to the speed you should have been at in the first place] and descend, and then you can increase back pressure and plunk it down.
    It takes a while to really feel what the plane is doing (such as skidding and slipping and snap-rolling.)

    —Bane of several CFIs over four decades
     
  8. Cluemeister

    Cluemeister Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    There's a blimp CFI on this board, I would suggest some short field landings under his supervision.
     
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  9. cowman

    cowman En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Making good landings is the most difficult thing you'll have to learn, don't be discouraged.

    Find your sweet spot for airspeed in the pattern and stick to that, try to keep it consistent and just keep practicing and practicing until you get it. The airspeed on base and base-final is the most important. Eventually you'll make consistently safe landings and that's when you'll solo. Consistently safe is the goal for now, pretty comes with practice and experience and even then none of us are perfect.

    It takes many hours of practice to get it down and even after you finish your training and become a real pilot you'll still be working on making it better. Just keep at it, it will happen.
     
  10. CharlieD3

    CharlieD3 Cleared for Takeoff

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    This may help... But pay close attention to the recommended speed, and know what it is for your aircraft.




    Learned about it from POA, so it must be ONE of the right ways to do it
     
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  11. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Keep practicing. Don’t try to rush your progress, or compare it to some other person or benchmark.

    Maybe: since you have every other aspect down, schedule a lesson where the CFI does everything EXCEPT from short final through the landing. CFI does the takeoff through mid-final. Just focus on the last piece. Maybe. Dumb internet suggestion...
     
  12. jg2000

    jg2000 Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks for all of the replies. I am trying my best not to be discouraged, but I am learning with a friend who is powering ahead of me and I can't help but compare. I know it's foolish to do so!

    I'm learning to fly on a rather unusual aircraft, the Tecnam P2002. It handles quite well, but is very light compared to even the Cessna 152. A bit of wind and it bounces about which means lots of wind correction on descent.

    I don't think my speed on base or final is too bad. I've been told 70-75 on base and 60 on final. Reducing to just below 60 just before the threshold. Perhaps I should focus more on this.

    I see you say to level the plane as it starts to balloon, but how do you know it's ballooning? I'm scared I will start to do it and the plane will slam down on the front wheel.
     
  13. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    My dad had this issue when I transitioned him into a Bonanza.

    We had a local airfield with appx 13,000' strip length that nobody ever used. I took him there, had him set up to land, BUT, instead of touching the wheels down, I had him try to hold the nose off, fly centerline, and sort of "slow flight" the entire length, occasionally touching down before he wanted it to (so we'd add power and keep going in ground effect), occasionally ballooning (so we'd add power and sneak back down)

    After a few of those, he had better "butt feel" for the plane and when she wants to start and stop flying. His landings got very predictable after that, and we were both freed to focus on his other crimes. :D

    I have no experience in the really light planes like tecnams, so I may be giving you a terrible idea -- but ask your CFI about it.
     
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  14. cowman

    cowman En-Route PoA Supporter

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    My experience is mostly in PA-28 and PA-32 pipers but this method works for me:

    When you get over the runway and feel like you're almost to the flare point hold the airplane level over the runway, when you feel your butt start to sink start to actually flare.
     
  15. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pattern Altitude

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    Two ideas... that may seem to contradict each other, but they don't, really..

    1. Patience.. as you look out the window, look up and down the runway, not just at one spot, to get a idea of what is happening, get your attitude set, and HOLD it there... allow the speed to bleed off, and keep gradually adding back pressure to keep the plane from landing. I used to run into a lot of trouble because I wasn't patient enough to just let the plane settle onto the runway... always felt like I needed to be MAKING it land. Sometimes, in the early stages, it's difficult to tell the difference between a change in the sight picture outside due to a change in attitude vs a change in altitude over the runway. That's why you need to look to the sides and up and down the runway to make sure you see what is actually happening.

    2. Keep the yoke moving... yeah, I know... this sort of contradicts the first paragraph, but it'll help you get a feel for what effect your control inputs are really having on the airplane. Little pulses of back pressure (and rudder... and aileron especially in a crosswind) will give you immediate direct feedback on how your actions control the plane. This tip helped me a great deal, and I still revert to this occasionally when things don't feel quite right or the plane drifts in a manner I didn't quite expect.

    Don't beat yourself up. Landing a small plane smoothly isn't something anyone does EVERY time, and learning to do it can be challenging. Don't know if your CFI is willing to go to a smaller airport with you, but I think it'd be a good idea. Even to this day, I have a harder time judging things on a massive runway than I do smaller ones, but that could be because some of the airports I learned to land on w/ my CFI back in the early stages weren't a whole lot wider than my plane, and two were shorter than 2000'. One of my favorite paved runways locally isn't near as wide as my wingspan.
     
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  16. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    My advise for good landings is to get super good at super stable approaches, especially just after turning final and being on centerline.

    Work on nailing your airspeed +/- 2 KIAS and your power setting to keep your aiming point stable and not moving. You know you have it when you can release the yoke and do “Jazz Hands” for 3-4 seconds and the airplane remains stable.

    If corrections are needed, make them small and easy, allow them to take effect, and don’t over correct.
     
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  17. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pattern Altitude

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    This quote, in particular, makes me think that you're fixated visually on one spot of the runway. My first instructor used to say, in a long, slow, relaxed voice during my first 20 panicked landings..."Looookkkk doooooowwwwwnnnn the ruuunnnnwwwwaayyyy.... dooooowwwwnnnnn the runway." I can still hear him saying it, 15 years later. I think you're looking too close to the plane. Move your gaze around, and look to the sides too. You'll see what the plane is doing, and you'll be fine.
     
  18. Ryanb

    Ryanb Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Use this equation to determine when to flare the airplane.


    E1ADF980-9C51-474D-8099-4EE59D2D3602.jpeg
    Note : if you end up with a number less than 3.874, than you’re flaring too fast!
     
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  19. snglecoil

    snglecoil Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Anytime I find myself having trouble with my landings it is usually solved by keeping my eyes as far down the runway as possible and thinking “smooth transition” instead of “flare”.
     
  20. sarangan

    sarangan Line Up and Wait

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    As others pointed already pointed out, airspeed is important, but what is even more important is the sight picture. Landing flare lasts just a few seconds, so even after 80 landings your "experience" is probably under 5 minutes. Ask your instructor to show you how to float a couple of feet over the runway at minimum controllable airspeed, especially since you said have a long runway. You need to set the power, and try to hold the airplane without letting the wheels touch down. This exercise will give you more time during each landing flare, and get you more acquainted with the sight picture and how the controls feel during those last few seconds before touchdown.
     
  21. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Also struggled with this and felt quite frustrated by it at times.

    What probably helped me the most was the realization that if you fly down into the ground effect at the right speed and just keep flying straight down the runway there while raising the nose to keep it off, it will land fairly nicely.
     
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  22. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    And when you’re doing it as described for the commercial pilot power off 180’s, you’ll float nicely in ground effect until you butter it in right at the 1000-foot markets!
     
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  23. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    What model of P2002 is it? and what does the AFM for it say about approach speeds? I'm not familiar with the various P2002 models, but I found this in the P2002JF AFM:

    3.10. .........On downwind, leg abeam touch down point: Flaps: set T/O (15°) Approach Speed 66 KIAS

    On final leg: Flaps: set Land (40°) Final Approach Speed 51 KIAS

    If that's right, 60 is much too fast on final. Look it up in the AFM for your airplane. There are a LOT of CFIs, and therefore a LOT of PPLs, that are afraid of stalling on final or something and approach way too fast, and fast landings break more airplanes than stalling on final. Besides that, it's poor technique. Another common factor is being too high on final and diving at the runway to try to get down, and in diving you just pick up a lot of speed that then ends up floating you far down the runway in ground effect. Get into habits like these and you can't go anywhere that has a shorter runway. And you'd need a huge field for a real forced landing. Injuries become much more likely.

    You need to take the airplane up to altitude and set up a power-off glide at the book value for final, and gradually pull the nose up to see where it actually stalls. Might surprise you how much margin you have between book speed and actual stall break.
     
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  24. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    I know exactly what you mean (and I highlighted). For the commercial maneuvers, I'm making the most out of practicing power off stalls in the C172I. There is loads of "time" between the first chirp of the stall horn to the actual break. One a few occasions, I have observed the air speed needle getting pretty close to 40 KIAS before the buffet is felt and even a bit more for the break to happen.

    Our trainer aircraft definitely have a decent safety margin built in... as long as we know and respect that.
     
  25. Stephen Shore

    Stephen Shore Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Alot of good advice. My only additional advice is to re-emphasize steady approach, hit your target speed over the numbers, and sight picture - look all the way down to the end of the runway once you get over the numbers.

    Two things should always come as a surprise - when you release an arrow (I am in a tree hunting right now) and when your plane contacts the runway.

    And don't ever feel bad or give up. Every pilot goes through a bad run on landings from time to time. And if all else fails - get you a Commander 114B - any idiot can land those planes! I know - I have one and their huge trailing link MLG is almost impossible to get a bad landing on. My other airplane is a Beech Sundowner with the rubber donuts for landing gear. A very humbling airplane to land to be sure!
     
  26. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Of course if you start with flying gliders, these power off 180s feel quite natural.
     
  27. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

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    I learned in Tecnam LSAs, both the P2002 and the P92. LSAs can be challenging, especially in variable winds or crosswinds. Be patient and don’t be afraid to let the plane float a bit.

    I found landings in the P92 to be much easier if I only used 2/3 flaps for normal and soft field landings. I only use full flaps on a short field landing.

    And don’t get discouraged. It took me a long, long time to get okay at landing. I’ve since passed both my SP and PP checkrides. You will get there.
     
  28. airflite1

    airflite1 Filing Flight Plan

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    This, I had a friend that couldn't land 172 to save his life, after a few trips flying the length of the runway holding it just off the ground, occasionally touching down, he started nailing his landings, do it it'll get you on track fast.
     
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  29. Jim K

    Jim K Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    I struggled greatly with landings, too. It's by far the hardest part of flying. My cfi said it takes about 100 to get it to click.... took me about 150. I have a few over 200 now, and I finally feel pretty confident. Somewhere in there I realized I actually started to enjoy the challenge.

    Big things for me:
    - get airspeed right, but don't chase it. Be stabilized. Pitch for airspeed, power for descent rate. Make small changes and give the airplane time to settle.

    - look down the runway in the round out.

    Repetitions. It really takes time to get the feel. I got pretty discouraged too when I was where you are, but believe me it gets easier.
     
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  30. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

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    This got my curiosity up, so I dug out my logbook and checked. My landings became acceptable after about 160.

    Finding the right size seat cushion so I had a proper sight line over the cowling made a BIG difference. Had I done that sooner I might have gotten there quicker. No worries; it takes what it takes.
     
  31. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    This video is worth posting again for threads like this....

     
  32. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    @jg2000 .... important point this... even after 500 hours, if I don't have the seat adjusted properly up or down, my aren't as good as when it is.

    You should be at a height where you can see the front edge of the cowl and a good bit of the middle part of the cowl. If you don't, raise the seat or get a cushion.
     
  33. mryan75

    mryan75 Cleared for Takeoff

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    There are 3 things that are absolutely essential to good approaches and good landings:

    1. Airspeed control.
    2. Airspeed control.
    3. Airspeed control.

    Being to fast on final os very easy to let happen, and will result in a crappy landing every time. Get the airplane to the appropriate airspeed and TRIM the airplane for that airspeed. Don't go 5 mph too fast. Don't go 4 mph too fast. Be militant about airspeed. All other things being equal this will help your landings.
     
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  34. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    Lindbergh had a gas tank for a windshield and just windows on the sides. J-3 taildragger students had to solo from the back seat where you could hardly see over the cowling. Just sayin'... ;) Not saying a cushion doesn't bring much comfort in more than one way, but looking where you have to and not where you want to can save time too.
     
  35. rtk11

    rtk11 Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    As others have said, you need to manage your energy (i.e. Manage your airspeed). Second, look at the END of the runway once the field is made. You want the same sight picture as when you're taking off. Staring at the tarmac will do nothing for you as you won't have a reference point for pitch attitude.

    FWIW, when I have the field made, I no longer look at the airspeed. It is what it is, and my job now is to look down the runway and keep the plane aligned to centerline. The plane WILL land itself as you bleed off airspeed.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2019
  36. Tbag

    Tbag Filing Flight Plan

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    From the sounds of it you are too fast. pic is from POH.

    What helped me is thinking about landings as not trying to land. Try to keep the runway 6 inches below the tires. If the power is off and you just keep that six inches, it will eventually land itself.....[​IMG]
     
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  37. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If you balloon with tiny flare pressures, your approach is too fast. Knock 8 it’s off your final approach speed. I kid you not. (CFI with lotsa rt. seat miles).

    in the very slow approach, there is not enough energy left to balloon. Full yoke deflection at 6” above the runway is all you have left.

    You are in the opposite condition.
     
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  38. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I’m not even reading all of this, but you’re probably going too damn fast and look too damn close.

    Look allllll the way down the runway, fly the book speeds MAX (as they are for FULL GROSS), runway assured pull the power out and just try to hold the plane 6” off the runway, KEEP flying the plane even after it touches its mains till the plane is at a walking pace.

    Rudder to keep it pointed down the runway, ailerons to keep it center on the runway.

    Once you start easing the yoke back don’t put it back forward, if it sinks keep the yoke still and just burp in some power.
     
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  39. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

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    all good advice but particularly liked number 2. Moving the elevator, rudder, ailerons slightly. Have been thinking about this a lot. I’m getting you mean very little increments and most often back again to where they started? I’m also guessing at times instinct would be to use the rudders in coordination with ailerons, but other times cross. It seems like this could help a lot at times. It is harder to move accurately from fixed position than even if you need to correct the opposite way than currently moving it seems quicker than movement from stop to a new position.

    a year or so ago I saw a video of a pilot in a c173 landing in what looked to be brutal gusting and wind, and he has the yoke and rudder all over the place all the way down. Also not just small movements, large amount of travel. It was amazing. He landed ok, but it was a little intimidating thinking his reaction time was super fast.
     
  40. texasclouds

    texasclouds Cleared for Takeoff

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    Just keep on trying, you’ll get it one day.